The Kings’ search for a new head coach took another turn Saturday with the news Memphis coach Dave Joerger had been fired and is scheduled to interview with the Kings on Sunday.
Joerger joins Frank Vogel as coaches who recently lost their jobs while Sacramento continues its expansive coaching search, which has lasted more than three weeks. Vogel’s contract with Indiana was not renewed last week.
Memphis assistant coach Elston Turner met with the Kings on Friday.
Joerger, 42, went 147-99 with three playoff appearances in three seasons as Memphis’ coach.
Joerger reportedly angered Grizzlies management by seeking jobs with other teams, including the Kings this month and Minnesota in 2014.
“The decision was made because I believe you need a deeply committed leadership team in order to establish the strong culture needed for sustainable long-term success,” Memphis general manager Chris Wallace said during a news conference after Joerger was fired. “I don’t want to get into specifics, but our goal now is to identify the best candidate for our organization.”
Joerger’s winning record and reputation as defensive-minded coach appeal to the Kings, who have missed the playoffs for 10 consecutive seasons and allowed a league-high 109.1 points per game this season.
Joerger was hailed as a Coach of the Year candidate this season. Amid numerous injuries, Memphis went 42-40 and reached the playoffs, in which it was swept by San Antonio in the first round. Starting center Marc Gasol (broken foot) and point guard Mike Conley (Achilles’ tendinitis) were lost for the season in February and early March, respectively.
After Game 4 against San Antonio, a tearful Joerger said how proud he was of the Grizzlies for not quitting during the season.
Wallace said the decision to fire Joerger “was not about Dave’s in-game coaching. Dave did an admirable job managing games. However, being an NBA head coach is about more than just coaching a 48-minute game.”
The Kings still could pursue Vogel, who reportedly has been contacted by New York about its vacancy.